Kicked off at last year’s B2B event, the program uses building and tinkering with cool cars and hot rods to attract the next generation of auto enthusiasts. In partnership with area high schools, skill centers, community colleges, and universities, Hot Rod High introduces teens and young adults to collector cars as a hobby, and provides them the opportunity to explore careers in auto mechanics or body repair through hands-on experience. Led by professionals in their respective fields, participants will be able to attend seminars and workshops, see working displays, and tackle a variety of mechanical, auto body, 12-volt electrical, and engineering projects, individually or as a team.
This year during B2B, the Hot Rod High crew will take over the Flat Lot to illustrate for kids and teens all the different components of car building and restoration. Representatives from local colleges including Baker and Kettering will also be there to discuss their automotive training programs with prospective students. One of those representatives is Bob Ayre, a welding instructor at Baker College and one of the Hot Rod High organizers. He became involved with the B2B Committee six years ago when he was approached by the program’s mastermind, Dale Frey; Frey was the one who saw the need in the community for a program such as this.
“Our automotive heritage is the biggest thing that the city of Flint has to hang its hat on.”
“We are all about promoting our passion,” Ayre says. “There aren’t enough young people involved to keep this hobby alive. We’re trying to stimulate a whole new generation of ‘car people’ to keep our automotive heritage alive. Our automotive heritage is the biggest thing that the city of Flint has to hang its hat on.”
Ayre estimates that at last year’s B2B, a couple of thousand young people came through Hot Rod High’s display at the Flat Lot. “It was well received,” he says. “We had a steady flow of young people during our event.”
For this year, Hot Rod High will display hands-on workshops including a transmission specialist, plasma cutting, a spark plug “installation speed” contest, and a commercial airbrush artist to perform demonstrations and offer hands-on experience. They provide all the equipment such as welding helmets, gloves, and the tools.
Students from Kettering and UM-Flint who have already been building cars have been invited to show off what they’ve built, including bringing along their robotics display, which will also be interactive for younger participants. From Committee members, there will be a display of old soap box derby cars.
The Committee’s goal is to eventually make Hot Rod High a year-round activity at the schools with facilities at Baker, Mott, Kettering and UM-Flint – and the colleges are very receptive to the idea and responding with immediate support. “We’re really excited about working with all of the schools,” says Ayre. The crew anticipates next year having all the area high schools involved, as well.
“We hope that these classes will be an introduction,” Ayre explains. They will cover topics of welding, electrical, transmissions, auto body, airbrushing, complete engine trainers demonstrated, air conditioning, and how brakes work.
“The college students have been tremendous,” Ayre says. “The university directors have been able to pick the cream of the crop, so the young people who have come to work at our displays have been tremendous.”
And passion is contagious.
“The B2B Committee is extremely passionate,” Ayre says. “The event is already nationally trademarked and they’ve invested a lot already. I think Hot Rod High will become the focal point for Back to the Bricks.”
We’re gonna tear it up in the parking lot
‘Cause a quick half-hour is all we got
When the lunch bell rings we’re gonna split
‘Cause all we care about is the shifting bit
Nothing but winners, all you losers scram at Hot Rod High
“Hot Rod High” by the Hondells, 1964